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Louisiana Students, Teachers to Benefit from Expansion of National Math Science Initiative’s College Readiness Program

Yesterday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Policymakers, local business and civic leaders, higher education representatives and teachers gathered this morning for an event announcing a major expansion of the National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) College Readiness Program in Louisiana schools, with financial assistance from ExxonMobil. Hosted by Principal Nanette McCann of Baton Rouge Magnet High School, officials recognized the hard work of local educators and highlighted the need for community leaders to raise matching funds to reach every high school across the state in future years.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students and teachers,” said State Superintendent of Education John White. “We are making a dedicated effort throughout Louisiana to improve our students’ future success.”

The College Readiness Program empowers school communities to improve participation and success in rigorous coursework to better prepare students for college and the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers of an increasingly competitive job market. NMSI will partner with parishes across the state over the next several years to support teachers and improve student performance in the core subjects of mathematics, science and English language arts.

“When our students and our schools succeed, Louisiana succeeds,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “And when business, education, policy and community leaders come together to help our students reach and even exceed their potential, we are creating a support system that allows us to sustain that success. This progress is critical for our future workforce, our business partners and the state as a whole.”

Schools participating in NMSI’s College Readiness Program have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on Advanced Placement® (AP) exams, while increasing student access to challenging coursework. Over one year’s time, the program boosts the number of AP® qualifying scores in math, science and English in participating schools by ten times the national average, while producing outstanding gains among female and minority students, two groups that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. To date, the College Readiness Program has expanded to nearly 800 schools across 30 states.

Nearly 1,150 students from four Louisiana schools already benefit from the program. Bossier High School and Parkway High School in Bossier Parish Schools are in their second year of the program, and Baton Rouge Magnet High School and McKinley High School in East Baton Rouge Public Schools have entered their first. Last year, students from Parkway and Bossier saw a 215 percent increase in qualifying math, science and English AP exam scores, more than 15 times the state average. The program expansion announced yesterday will significantly increase the number of partner schools and student participants statewide.

NMSI CEO Matthew Randazzo emphasized that AP is one of the most powerful tools for preparing students for the demands of college-level work and a rapidly changing workforce. “The College Readiness Program will encourage young people throughout Louisiana to defy expectations and make their dreams of college and career a reality,” he said.

ExxonMobil’s $13 million investment and partnership with NMSI in Louisiana provides the state’s schools and students access to the resources and support systems they need to help them succeed. The College Readiness Program’s comprehensive model provides extensive training for teachers, more time on task for students and equipment and supplies to support AP coursework. Mark Northcutt, manager, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery, noted that the success of Louisiana’s industries depends on the quality, ingenuity and diversity of its workforce.

“We all know that a quality education leads to individual opportunities and overall economic growth,” Northcutt said. “We have to provide these young students, our future leaders, with the knowledge and skills, especially in math and science, that are critical to the jobs of today and tomorrow.”